Food Safety Validation for your business

Food safety validation is integral in making sure that all the strategies we implement to produce safe food is actually going to work.  Food safety validation is a requirement of any of the GFSI recognized standards. It is also integral in our ability to produce safe food. Over the past few weeks, it seems that I have been surrounded by questions and activities related to food safety validation. In this post I share 3 key validation activities that your food business should have in place.

What is food safety validation?

Before we get into my top 3 validation activities let’s get clear on our definition. Food safety validation is obtaining evidence that an activity, if properly implemented, is capable of controlling the hazard to a specified outcome.

CCP Validation

Critical control point (CCP) validation is the most recognized food safety validation you will come across. It involves making sure that whatever critical limits you have defined in your HACCP Plan will actually work. Some common CCP food safety validation include time – temperature relationships, storage temperatures and chemical dosing concentrations. You can generally find references back to legislation for any cooking or storage temperatures.

Shelf Life Validation

How did you come up with the shelf life or expiry date coding for your finished product? Did you take a guess or did you copy what your competitor has on their products? Both options are not acceptable.

You need to establish your own expiry dates based on your individual processing method. You can run a series of tests, using both microbiological and sensory analysis. An external laboratory may also provide guidance on what the best analysis would be for your product and process. You can read more about shelf life validation here.

Cleaning Chemicals

Cleaning chemical validation is a big one. How do you know that the chemical sanitizer you are using in your food business is adequate? When I say adequate, I mean, will it effectively reduce the microbiological load on your equipment or utensil surfaces?

There is some general information that has been published by governments around the world which talks about chemical constituents but what about the actual brands that you use? Easiest way to obtain this food safety validation information is to ask your chemical supplier. Obtain copies of their microbiological analysis. Don’t just accept what the company sales representative has to say. Get it in writing from a suitably qualified source.

Validation Study

If you are interested in learning more on how to put together and documenting a food safety validation study, join me in my new Virtual course – “Understanding Validation and Verification”.  Click here to find out more.

Got something to say?

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By | 2017-03-13T16:54:28+00:00 March 13th, 2017|12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Thomas Johnson April 2, 2017 at 10:17 am - Reply

    The elephant in the room – is that few if any process validate cleaning. Its well know that you cannot disinfect filth. So too is it known that we can only improve that which we can accurately measure.

    What is your measure for “clean”? What are the quantitative threshold limit values, beyond which you cannot reasonably expect ANY disinfectant to “work”?

    Disinfecting is always simple and effective – after you have completely decontaminated (cleaned) something, ton the extent that you have remove all interference of the oxidizing character of the disinfectant you choose.

    We process validate all cleaning using quantitative measures such as ATP, TURBIDITY and many more. Once correlation is confirmed – we develop reasonable verification methods. Everyone needs to understand, that cleaning is hard, it takes time and is inconvenient due to so many corrective re-cleanings – to get it right. Cleaning and disinfecting can NEVER be done with one step. Never whip out the disinfectant – until clean has been verified.

    • HACCP Mentor April 5, 2017 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Totally agree Tom. Sanitizes and disinfectants are not effective when applied to unclean surfaces.

  2. Ronald Barker March 22, 2017 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    When a company says “we use 2.0mm ferrous” for their metal detector, how can they validate that?

    • HACCP Mentor March 24, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Ronald
      Validation for metal detector test pieces is based on the actual capability of the metal detector and the particular product being based through the metal detection. Validation would come from the machine provider.

  3. Lyubomir Iliev March 21, 2017 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    Dear Mentor,

    I am fully agree with your top 3 validation activities.

    I would like to extend not only validation of CCPs ( are they properly identified themselves) but also validation of the respective critical limits (e. g. why temperature is 100 deg. C, but not 110 deg. C) etc.

    I would add (let say top 10 validations) also 4. validation of inspection plan (frequency and type of analyses), 5. validation of Control points/Operational Prerequisite Programs (in language of IFS, BRC and FSSC standards), 6. validation of effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection activities, 7. validation of hazards identified and their significance (preferably in light of new scientific researches), 8. validation of new product development and design (are any changes needed to HACCP study), 9. validation of new equipment, 10 validation of controls applied through Control Points.

    • HACCP Mentor March 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge Lyubomir

  4. Jeremy A. Okwuosa March 15, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Just to add, I believe that the validation of the thawing and cooking instructions on the labels are quite as important (in short, any claim made on a label has to be validated). The reason I’m bringing this up is because years ago, the Scallop Company I was working for was sued following the consumption of the Scallops at a local restaurant (for vibrio-related contaminations).

    I had to give a deposition to defend my QMS program, and fortunately (not luckily) I had a 3rd party quarterly-validation (2 years worth) for my thawing and cooking instructions against the known food pathogens. It was determined that the issue may not have occurred had the restaurant followed the cooking instructions.

    My advice to all QA/FS directors out there, going through any legal deposition is severely painful, the lawyers look for the slightest slip up to hang you by your toenails, so do not allow shortcuts in your facility, validate your processes and label claims, and protect the public from food borne illnesses. I learned a lot from that experience.

    • HACCP Mentor March 21, 2017 at 11:26 am - Reply

      Great insight Jeremy. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I totally agree that all label claims including storage and consumer use instructions need to be validated.

  5. Rokshanara Khatun March 14, 2017 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    In addition to these, other process control validation are also necessary such as microbial control, food additives, allergen control. Though allergen could be controlled under PRP.

    • HACCP Mentor March 21, 2017 at 11:27 am - Reply

      Thanks for the share Rokshanara 🙂

  6. Sa Whelen March 14, 2017 at 10:48 am - Reply

    How often do you need to validate Shelf Life and Cleaning Chemicals?

    • HACCP Mentor March 21, 2017 at 11:30 am - Reply

      There is not really an actual number eg. 3 weeks, monthly, annually etc. Validation activities should be completed before use and whenever there is a change to process, raw materials, suppliers, legislation etc.

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